Appeals court rejects Trump Jan. 6 gag order inquiry

 January 24, 2024

On Tuesday, the former president's attempt to have the district court hear his challenge to a gag order in his election meddling case was denied by a federal appeals court.

According to a report by The Hill, this move sets the stage for what is likely to be a Supreme Court showdown over speech limitations imposed on him.

In this instance, a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals had essentially maintained a lower court's decision that limited Trump's speech.

Trump was already forbidden from making statements that "target" foreseeable witnesses, court officials, and prosecutors, and that finding substantially upheld Judge Tanya Chutkan's earlier ruling.

The Appeal

The appeals court narrowed the scope of that order, preventing Trump from making any remarks that could  “made with the intent to materially interfere with, or to cause others to materially interfere with” the course of the case.

The matter will most likely be taken up by the Supreme Court following the D.C. Circuit's denial of rehearing the case. While the justices consider the gag order, Trump may urge them to delay its implementation.

This is just one of numerous fights involving Trump's numerous pending legal matters that have been making their way to the Supreme Court.

Trump's exclusion from the Colorado ballot was based on a decision that violated the 14th Amendment's restriction on insurrection, and the Supreme Court has already heard an appeal of that decision. Less than three weeks remain until the oral arguments.

But if the justices do agree to examine Trump's gag order, it will be the first time they've intervened in any of Trump's four criminal cases since he was charged.

Smith's Case

Special counsel Jack Smith has indicted Trump with four felonies in the District of Columbia, alleging that he conspired to undermine the 2020 election results. Trump has pled not-guilty.

The question of whether or not Trump enjoys criminal immunity for crimes committed while in office is another potential future battleground for the Supreme Court to consider.

The plea to bypass the normal appeals process and decide Trump's immunity immediately was denied by the Supreme Court. As a result, the case will now move via the D.C. Circuit.

Now that the gag order fight is over, Trump can take his case to the Supreme Court.

The circuit court majority disagreed with Chutkan's choice of the word "target," thinking it may prevent Trump from addressing potential witnesses and critics of his campaign.

According to the judges, their standard reads as follows: "as long as he does not concern their roles as witnesses or the content of any expected testimony," which means the former president can talk about the same people's books, articles, editorials, interviews, or political campaigns.

Additionally, on Chutkan's directive, Smith was removed from the list of protected figures, allowing Trump to make more critical remarks regarding the lead prosecutor in the case.

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